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Life Sci. 1985 Jan 7;36(1):1-14.

Peripheral receptor populations involved in the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and the pharmacological actions of metoclopramide-like drugs.


This minireview is concerned with a re-examination of the locus of action and the possible peripheral mechanisms involved in the gastrointestinal (GI) stimulant effects of metoclopramide. Such a re-evaluation is opportune given the increasing use of this drug in the therapy of certain GI tract disorders. To provide an orientation on this subject the location in the GI tract and function of several relevant receptor types have been reviewed. In the past metoclopramide has been reported to enhance contractions of a variety of GI preparations to electrical stimulation, acetylcholine, carbachol and ganglion stimulants, to inhibit responses to alpha 2-adrenoreceptor agonists and 5-hydroxytryptamine, as well as blocking those to dopamine. Also in such preparations metoclopramide facilitates the release of acetylcholine to transmural stimulation. One important question is whether this effect is mediated via a specific prejunctional receptor. In this respect 2 suggestions have been made. Firstly that the drug may act as a preferential, prejunctional muscarinic antagonist thus inhibiting the negative feedback inhibition of acetylcholine release and secondly that metoclopramide may be a prejunctional agonist (partial) at 5-hydroxy-tryptamine receptors. Although the latter possibility appears most tenable at present, the involvement of a specific receptor remains to be confirmed. The important finding that dopamine receptors are probably not involved in the local stimulant effects of metoclopramide has important implications for future research orientated towards the discovery of a new generation of GI drugs lacking the side effects associated with central dopamine receptor blockade. Several compounds (cinitapride, BRL 20627A and cisapride) are now in the early stages of clinical evaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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